Jeffrey Grunthaner looks at the triad of art, life, and aesthetics via the Spencer Sweeney lens.
[My] current work has evolved according to a process I didn’t exactly plan. I come across a concept, symbol, artwork, music or philosophy that strikes a chord. From there I choose a way to incorporate this into my practice, and thus my life. I surround myself with representations or reproductions of these ideas and works, which are the motors. They give off energy. This drives me to familiarize myself with them inside and out, and this is the fuel. — Spencer Sweeney (exerpted from “The Pains of Being Spencer Sweeney” by Jane Harris, Art in America, January 13th, 2010)
If the panoply of motors Spencer Sweeney surrounds himself with and the energy they give off remains obscure here, this very obscurity contributes to what gives life to his art. An almost panoramic attitude underlies Sweeney’s work, something that would be universally embracing: a noumenal wholeness that can only be phenomenally grasped in terms of contradictory representations. The limit of this kind of aesthetic is the image of an all-embracing freedom, where all forms of diversity meet and interconnect—and where even the notion of an image, the static displacement of self from world, is finally transcended.
A critical as well as a creative process, Jules Marquis originates in an experimental awareness shared between conceptual artist Daniel Turner and video artist Colin Snapp. Perhaps less of a collaborative project than an impersonal presence, “Jules”—as Turner and Snapp refer to the works they sign off under her name—is a fictive third-person, a woman, who adroitly facilitates the artistry of Turner and Snapp for her own aesthetic explorations. Her ventures, however, are no masquerade. Among other things that make “Jules” such a rarity, is the fact that she’s so independent- minded. Her work even presents itself as something radically different from—and self-consciously critical of—the work of both her fraternal co-conspirators.
Jules Marquis has been, and will always be, the dematerialized realization of an intensely collaborative dialogue between Turner and Snapp—a dialogue that touches on nonpartisan agitprop, controlled chaos, and mindful criticality toward questionable practices prevalent in the gallery system. What interested me personally, though, was why Snapp and Turner seemingly discontinued this dialogue whenever they engaged in their own individual practices. So when I interviewed them, I was delighted to glimpse how their respective practices and sensibilities fed into the ever mercurial enterprise of Jules Marquis.
In the following conversation, Turner, Snapp, and myself discuss Jules Marquis as a collaborative body of work designed to address the prevalence of media in contemporary society, revealing how Turner and Snapp’s individual practices relate to the works credited to Jules. Through the course of our discussion, we direct our attention to essential projects Jules has engaged in over the past two years.
Jeffrey Grunthaner So tell me about Jules Marquis. What’s the history behind it?
Colin Snapp Jules Marquis started off as collaboration about ten years back, in San Francisco.